Saturday 28 March 2015

squat parties (work in progress)

i first started going to squat parties when i moved to london to study. i guess i already had a vague yearning towards alternative culture since i knew about cooltan, which unfortunately got evicted just before i got there in september 1995.

i was already into underground music and had been to some exodus raves in luton plus a few free festivals in london. there was the deptford urban free festival, where i heard zebedee DJing for the first time on a rig called something like avinit army, plus one on clapham common where the revolutionary dub warriors played. then there was hackney homeless in clissold park, whre i took mushrooms for the first time. it ended up in a riot... aaand that was the excuse for that not to happen again

above is the nme report thanks to historyismadeatnight, which also links to a film about the fest

i picked up some advance party flyers at the festies and of course once actually living in london had a lot of places to explore. back in those days i thought nothing of clubbing thursday through sunday (without drugs even!) and i remember being given a vox populi flyer at the end of megatripolis. i didn't go and then they headed off to europe. spiral tribe were already gone. but not to worry, i found the infoline for an immersion party in manor house or somewhere in north london and headed up to a bingo hall and a party which blew my head off.

another early rave was a NYE bash on the corner of well street / mare street in an old cinema which is later became an iceland supermarket. we walked there from highbury and islington tube, not knowing london very well!  i think my first rave was in farringdon, or maybe that was later than the NYE party...

the farringdon party (above) was great, the guy on the door with a pierced lip said he thought spiral tribe were in germany but he wasn't sure and we sat in a corner as all these crusties (which in 6 months would be us) just kind of stood around and chatted. i don't remember anyone dancing and i couldn't process the music, it was just a wall of noise.

systems around at that time were mainline, virus, oops, insanity, jiba. all playing seriously good underground tekno, a language i started to understand. on rigs like immersion and also at parties like club alien and kinky techno (a semilegal immersion venture under kingsX station) acid trance was just getting going and that was great for a while before it stagnated. i remember when drum n bass was controversial (like there being a dnb room at hellraiser WTF!?!) but that soon started to feature. parties that stand out for me were: the hackney wick mashups - dace road, carpenters road ... one was a benefit for curley's family, since he had just died. i remember turning up late on acid, then taking K and forgetting i was on acid and spiral tribe's 'goign all the way' eviscerating my body.

the (unsound)cinema in wood green was pretty awesome for a few weeks - we turned up fucked after pride with little flashing wands (acid again - it doesn't get much better than seeing the pet shop boys sing go west as thousands sing along and the sky explodes with fireworks). the bullring at waterloo was pretty funny - outside, in the place where the IMAX stands now, as a benefit for the homeless who were being evicted. dan hekate talks about it in this resonance radio show:

 my fave memory is someone playing this wicked anticore track:

 come to think of it there were K-related religious experiences galore at that time. molly's book documents a lot of the places, even if i remember them slightly differently. and of course we were travelling out to europe for teknival - for a few summers that was what summer meant. systems like metek, dstorm, lego, furious, foxtanz, total resistance, sound conspiracy, samovar, damage control all twatting out amazing music through electrical storms.

 czechtek was always great - cheap booze and amazing weather; dutchtek tended to feature loads of gabba and speedcore; paristek 2000 was where i made a lot of good friends before my travels had even started in earnest; slovtek; poltek; the list goes on.. and there were english festies like tolworth and the travellers field at glastonbury (RiP) and some great quarry raves in wales. by this time, there were newer systems like headfuk and hekate. and panik

whilst i was living i europe i carried on raving, going to parties in and around prague from people like cirkus alien and vosa, but of course it's not the same without your drug buddies and a scene which you are part of. by the time i ended up in NL i preferred hibernation. nowadays its hard to find a good party, they still exist of course. the kids are no doubt doing it different now but i still (2013) try to make NFA and pokora parties.


from an old link zine:


 when i was a kid i was really struck by this newspaper story about a guy who was found drowned in a quarry lake somewhere in south wales. he was positively identified by his family and about to be buried when 'he' turned up again, alive and well and wondering what the fuss was about. 'his' family must have been overjoyed to find out 'he' had simply gone off travelling for a while to sort out his head.

meanwhile the police must have been a bit frustrated to have to reopen a case they thought they had closed. apparently this man and the dead man bore a stunning resemblance, even down to a shared birthmark on their respective legs. obviously it's quite rare that we hear about such blatant cases of mistaken identity, but what if they don't happen so often not because people don't look the same but more because there are rules governing whereabouts the doppelgangers can go and most of the time they prevent them meeting up? it's possible but then of course you start to wonder who makes the rules. and does he/she have a doppelganger too?

definitely i see types of similarity - for instance a girl in a record shop with the same length hair, the same glasses and the same backwards tilt to the head which she adopts when looking at something as an irish girl i met in another country. are people really so different? are we really unique? or are we just a bundle of behaviour patterns grabbed from the collective unconscious and as with language we can unconsciously turn on or off various factors. with so many parameters to choose from that most of the time waht results is a real unique individual?

certainly the patterns can be traced. certainly fashion and society shape the way we look, whether we allow it consciously or not. well, my childish mind decided that everyone has a doppelganger living somewhere on the other side of the globe. although you must bear in mind that around this time, i was also trying to pull fully grown oak trees down with my plastic tractor, still it's a theory which cannot be denied. the sticking point was skin colour actually, i just couldn't decide whether doppelgangers were racially the same, they do have to be really, since for example one racial division is body build and i never resolved that one satisfactorily. and also another problem comes back to me now, namely whether the two doppelgangers would be born and maybe even die at the same time or not. the welsh quarry man could be a counterexample or the exception which proves the rule. i dunno.

anyway, this squat party in eindhoven i went to recently also got me thinking about this topic in a different way, for it is weird to see how things such as dress sense and face composition move in circles. i see this a bit having been to lots of tekno parties in the netherlands, the czech republic and england. if you look at the people it's strange to see how across arbitrary boundaries like nationality and location, things such as a look or a posture can be the same.

i guess you will only understand what i am droning on about if i give some examples. actually to start with the very building gave me deja vu, since it was a massive distribution centre, the type where one side of the building has loading bays which trucks back up to and inside there were huge empty rooms and tiny prefab office spaces, just like a distribution centre where i went to a few parties in london (tottenham hale). then the people reminded me of other people in various ways. in attitude, in action, in look, in gesture. maybe the drugs help, the same chemicals twisting faces in the same way over europe and driving evolution in new interesting ways.

base users do certainly develop this weird sort of reptilian tan. we can say for sure some sort of europe wide tekno fashion underclass is developing, i guess as tribes do. tekno sits in a grand line of cultual movements. the kids are always revolting. since the hippies anyway. so are we talking about some form of universal tekno resistance? in a sense yes, this is a brotherhood of sorts which can be nice to be a part of (things like meeting a french truck in eastern europe and bonding instantly because we are listening to the same mixtape) but then from another point of view tribalism is fake, it's a lowest common denominator movement, where people are afraid to be different and celebrate diversity. i guess that's the negative side of of all tribes. there is a uniform, there are facial piercings, bomber jackets, combat pants, mighty hooded tops, dark clothes and caps at jaunty angles which become more and more ridiculous as the night wears on.

but it does go deeper than that too. how come the gurl who looks like a drugged up czech punk i know, in the sense of having the same weird dreads, long grey german army jacket and big boots, also acts like her, drifting around the dance floor mashed up and encouraging men to molest her by bumping into them with the same far-away look in her eyes? isn't that a bit too weird? why do those speaker freakers hanging out by the stacks just like their tribal brothers in the czech republic manage to have high cheekbones and haircuts which actually make them look czech? yes, part of this is me bending my head on drugs and seeing links where the links exist because humans do resemble each other but i expect there is a bit more going on here. i'm thinking in terms of memes and affects: this notion current in the theory of ideas that ideas are virus-like; thoughtpatterns exist as electro-magnetic radiation; the brain is a transmitter and the signals it produces can be picked up by other receivers; and taking drugs probably helps this process either by making us more sensitive or anaesthetising us to it.

hooray for tekno parties, they're fun to go to and give you weird thoughts. and i don't have very much more to say than that.

except that we started off discussing doppelgangers and next time you are at a tekno party you should keep an eye out for your's.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

121 / speedcore / Dead by Dawn

I was there! Occasionally.

Dead by Dawn gets mentioned in a long crimethinc piece on squatting in the UK...

By the late 1990s, the 121 centre was running out of steam as Brixton began to gentrify around it—or so it seemed to us when we visited for meetings, although it did host the first Queeruption in 1998, and the monthly Dead by Dawn speedcore parties were great. In the 1980s, it had been extremely active as a café, bookshop, library, venue, and rehearsal space. It was used as a base by groups such as Brixton Squatters Aid, Brixton Hunt Saboteurs, Food not Bombs, Community Resistance Against the Poll Tax, Anarchist Black Cross, the Direct Action Movement, London Socialist Film Co-op, the Kate Sharpley Library, and the Troops Out Movement. There was a printing press in the basement which produced the feminist magazine Bad Attitude, the anarchist magazine Black Flag, and the squatters’ newspaper Crowbar, among other publications.


This is a (hilariously late review of a) book about free tekno parties in the 1990s by Bert Random. It is set over the course of one night at a fictional Bristol party, which serves as a metonym for the free party scene as a whole.

Whilst I liked the book and thought it was fairly good at expressing the inexpressible pleasures of being on drugs at a rave, I also found it slightly embarrassing. These personal insights which you have on drugs mean a lot to the person concerned but otherwise tend to sound a bit facile. And the groups of mates with funny sounding names, whilst perfectly appropriate, also seems a bit of a cliche.

The illustrations interspersed throughout the text by five different artists (with pretty different styles) were .. ok.

Whilst Hunter S. Thompson is name-checked, this book isn't quite in that class. It's a good read, but Random doesn't pull meaning out of all the drugs experiences. And maybe that's becuase there isn't much to be found. Thompson got high in Vegas and wrote about the American psyche. Random took drugs in Bristol and wrote about feeling fucked. Yet I feel more could be said here. The act of people partying on industrial estates in derelict warehouses to drill-hard music does seem like it can be read as a statement on the way society is going, but that sort of stuff will have to wait for another book.

There's an interview with the author here which is more interesting..

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Guardian - Illegal raves: social media messages bring in a new generation of partygoers

Fairly shit Guardian article:

It's after midnight in a repossessed college building in east London. Hundreds of ravers in their early 20s shuffle in front of a wall of speakers, cutting shapes to heavy drum 'n' bass as an MC raps. Upstairs, a queue snakes away from a small table, where a man is selling balloons for a pound. A girl buys one and bounces back to the dancefloor, sucking on its nitrous oxide – laughing gas – before passing it to her friend. For the next 36 hours, the narrow road outside is clogged with vans, cars and taxis arriving and departing. About 1,000-1,500 people come and go until a pipe is broken, the floor floods, and the Valentine's Squatters Fancy-Dress Ball comes to an abrupt end.

Yes, illegal raves – those secret warehouse parties so synonymous with baggy jeans and luminous whistles – are back.

Oscar, 35, runs a cleaning company. Nick, 24, works as a marketing consultant in the defence industry, having recently left a multinational investment bank. Both are part of a new school of rave promoters who use Facebook rather than flyers to organise their free parties. Crews are popping up all over the country. Some of those Oscar works with, he tells me, learned the trade from their parents, first-wave rave promoters.

Facebook pages used by Nick and Oscar's crew have about 10,000 users. Nick handles the lineups – assessing Soundcloud samples sent in by those wanting to play the parties – and writes the online promotional text. Facebook replies are a reliable gauge for how many beers or balloons of nitrous oxide they need to buy to sell to the punters. "Are we over 2,000 [RSVPs] yet?" he asks Oscar as they plan another Project X free party. "I invited 300 more earlier today."

Scores of other crews operate in the city, with the new rave economy built on failed mortgages. Parties often take place in properties on which the banks have foreclosed, and that lie derelict. Perfect homes in which to set up quickly, party, and leave. "Everyone wants to get in on the rave scene lately," agrees Oscar. "Looking at how relaxed the police are about it, I sense there's something coming round. Another law banning squatting, maybe."

 Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for The Guardian. Frantzesco Kangaris for The Guardian
Just as before, an air of moral threat hangs over the rave scene. In December, a teenager was stabbed and a police officer injured at Oscar's Santa Stomp party in Wapping, with local politicians calling for the party sites to be secured against "troublemakers". Even then, social media played its part. "[The teenager] recovered well and we caught the little bastard who did it, but it cast a black cloud over our parties," says Oscar. How was the culprit caught? "I had 2,500 people here, so we got on the net and we found a picture of him. We took it to the hospital and the kid recognised him, so the cops took it over from there."


I first talk to Oscar and Nick while they're in the process of stepping up their business by investing in their own soundsystem. We drive to a garage in Croydon packed with another crew's gear, where the pair shop around for two new "scoops" (speakers) and an amp. "We're a network – we know each other all over the country. In a couple of weeks we've got someone down from Nottingham playing our party," Oscar says. It's international, too. "We're doing France in March."

No one's in this to get rich. "I've put more money in than I got out," Oscar says. It cost him about £7,000 to put together a new rig – 8,000-watt speakers, Technics turntables, CDJ consoles, mixers, lasers and lights and a rack of festival-grade amps – and that's before you start adding up the runaround money he needs for fuel, maintenance and to pay squatters for location tips. He keeps in touch with groups of drifters who scout London for suitable buildings (known as "goers"). They get in as homeless residents, inform the police of their new abode, and Oscar starts planning a party in the building that is notionally their home. Once the rigs are in place, a voicemail is recorded on a phone number revealing the location. The phone number is listed on their Facebook pages. Then the doors open. By the time the case against the original squatters comes to court and bailiffs are appointed to evict, it can be weeks since the building served its purpose as a party venue.

Like Oscar and Nick, most promoters have day jobs and are in the scene because they're ravers. Their only reliable source of income from parties is from door fees and selling balloons of nitrous oxide. Given that popular DJs need to be paid at least a token sum and that security companies charge £10 an hour for every bouncer, there's little profit to be made.

The raves are called "free parties" not because they don't charge for tickets, but because they're free from restrictions. Nobody worries about smoking or taking drugs. "We let you do whatever you want," says Nick. "Security only throws out those who act aggressively. You'll get checked for glass and weapons. Otherwise, you're totally free."

Any dealing is usually done by small-fry freelancers who generally pay their way in with some of their goods. More serious drug pushers tend not to be involved – the millions of pounds generated by dealing at the 90s raves ended up attracting the attention of the police, and in turn killed the scene. The idea, says Oscar, is that "some people need to let their hair down properly. Down here we live first by the laws of the land and then by the government – there's a difference." The police seem to be fully aware of this ethos and relatively comfortable with it: at one party I go to, in Beckton, east London, police arrive only to leave after handing out flyers about the dangers of drugs.

At the first party I go to, in a warehouse in Silvertown there's no headline DJ – he's been poached by a rival outfit – and Oscar demonstrates his own unique way of dealing with fire alarms. "It's crying of thirst," he says, taking the screeching object into the bathroom to run it under a tap. The screeching stops. "There you go. A little common sense never goes amiss."

At 10, before the event has begun, there's a cry of "Old Bill!" and two plainclothes officers come in. Oscar makes an announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, the police are here to have a look. Please stay calm." They leave after five minutes, seemingly content, and sound-testing resumes. At 11, there's a power failure and both rigs go down. An engineer in wellies scrambles between the two systems and the main electric panel, finally getting it up and running until the party powers down around 7am.

"See what a little Facebook post does," Oscar says the next week, at the end of another party, handing me a beer in the back of his van. About 150 people had turned up to a food-processing plant in Stratford, on just six hours' notice, the lights silhouetting the dancers against stainless steel walls: moving shadows in purple and green. The event had a charitable cause: door fees (£5) were donated to a family who had recently suffered a death. "We need to clean up the brand a little," Oscar remarked.

Although illegal raves have been an incubator for the electronic music and dance scenes – Wiley and the Roll Deep crew reportedly debuted their acts at raves – you won't hear many artists who've made the crossover to the mainstream talking about it. Media coverage of the scene has been so toxic for so long that few will admit to a connection (even though some name artists do still appear for free at squat parties). Some overground outfits openly support the movement, among them the award-winning radio stations Freek FM (which plays house and garage) and Kool London (drum'n'bass). Tune into Freek and you can hear DJ Madness calling out the party lines for the next squat bash. But that's pretty much where it stops.

So what keeps those on the scene involved, weekend after weekend, hauling tons of equipment though warehouses, factories and institutional buildings? "It's not about the drugs or the money now," Nick says. Instead, it seems to be the excitement of being part of Britain's cultural underground. "Rigs on standby! Call the usual lines after 9pm for location. See you by the stacks," reads a note saved on his phone, ready to be broadcast every weekend.

Names have been changed at the request of the participants

Saturday 29 March 2014

Chris Liberator Interview

Louder Than War Interview: Chris Liberator from Stay Up Forever Records
Written by Bert Random20 November, 2013

Louder Than War’s Bert Random sits down for a chat with Chris Liberator; DJ, producer and co-owner of “deeply underground and fiercely single-minded” Stay Up Forever Records.

2012 was a strange year, stultified by sport, civic occasions, and pageantry of all kinds. Viewed from the autumn of 2013 it looks like an exercise in denial, an attempt by the ruling classes to paper over the cracks with as much bullshit as they could muster. While much of the country was going mad in a brief orgy of feel-good distraction an alternative celebration was going on. Techno DJ / producer Chris Liberator and his brothers-in-acid, Aaron and Julian, spent the year celebrating two milestones: twenty years of DJing together as the Liberator crew, and the one-hundredth release from their record label, the deeply underground and fiercely single-minded Stay Up Forever Records. SUF emerged in 1994 and since then has supplied a regular dose of dancefloor-destroying acid techno, spreading the gospel of “fat 303s, fat rigs, fast drugs, fuck you” across the world.

Our man spoke to him about surviving outside the mainstream for twenty years.

Louder Than War: 2012 must have been a busy year for you Chris, so how do you feel now as we’re staggering through 2013? How did you feel about the weird jingoistic haze that descended over the country last year? How have you been marking the 100th release from Stay Up Forever?

Chris Liberator: 2013 has been good so far. As we’ve not had a lot of money and not any particular rush to hurry the 100th release celebrations we’ve definitely been drawing things out a bit!  Parts 4 and 5 of SUF 100 came out in the summer, and the box set/CD/download version of the whole thing which will probably arrive towards the end of the year now. Plus we still have plans to do an exhibition and more parties this year including a huge LONDON UNDERGROUND UNITED party on 23rd November in North London. As for the very nationalistic tendencies displayed in 2012 with the Olympics and Jubilee etc., this thankfully seems to have been replaced with the public’s realisation that things are not bright and rosy at present. With Thatcher dying (weirdly enough on my birthday) the forces of Britain’s non- mainstream political and cultural underground seem finally to be galvanised. Hopefully we’ll see some creative subversion, ha ha!

Going back to the beginning, how did you Aaron and Julian meet? Did you have music out through other labels first? What caused the birth of Stay Up Forever? How did you deal with the practicalities of getting started?

We met in 1990, linking up through friends of friends around the North London/Stoke Newington squat scene. We were all into techno and raving but felt a bit out of place going out to commercial raves when we were all from a much more squat/punk background. We didn’t feel at home around the white jeans, white gloves and glow-stick culture in commercial raves and clubs so began using our ever-expanding record collections to play music on our own scene.

Our first event, in Julian’s squat in October 1990, had a techno rave (courtesy of us) on the first floor, and a hole cut in the floor with a fireman’s pole leading to a basement with punk bands playing, and a big fire in the garden serving as a chill out! From these humble roots we began putting on more parties, a mixture of warehouse raves and punk squat eviction parties, before meeting up with like minded crews like Conspiracy and Bedlam and playing with them at bigger warehouse squat parties in London, and festivals like Lechlade and Castlemorton on the burgeoning illegal festival/rave link up.

We decided after a while to start a label to represent the sound we’d been playing, (hard European, US and British acid, rave and techno) which strangely enough didn’t fit with the many systems we played alongside who at the time either favoured Gabba (Spirals, etc.), or House (DIY, etc.), or purer Detroit techno (Zero Gravity, etc.) Apart from a few like-minded souls like Dave DDR from Full On, and Beamish from Shrape, we were largely out on a limb so the idea to put out some of our own music took shape. Around this time we met Choci from Choci’s Chewns who was one of the few people championing a similar sound to us and we began making tunes for his label shortly after starting our own STAY UP FOREVER imprint. More tunes and offers for other labels followed as our music began to spread but it certainly wasn’t an instant thing , we were at it for a long while before things really began to click. We’d actually ran out of money for the label by the fifth record and were saved from oblivion by the Truelove Collective who offered us a pressing and distribution deal. With the help of a few friends who had access to some better studios we managed to keep the music coming, financed from small amounts of money we made from DJing at club gigs like Megadog that we played at, inbetween the squat/free party stuff.

I listened through some of the early 12”s while writing out these interview questions, and they are raw, but you can see a SUF sound is there very early on. The Hardcore Disco E.P. and Chugg’A’Fukka, for example, sound very different but share an attitude.  What do you think of those tunes now you look back on them? What’s the oldest SUF tune you think you still pull out regularly? What about your personal favourite, the one you look back on and think – ‘yeah, we nailed that’?

The early releases definitely displayed the attitude we were trying to reflect, but more than anything they are a product of what the three of us (Julian, Aaron and myself ) were into playing as DJ’s. We were really into acid but didn’t have a 303, but we did have some gear left from a band I’d been in including an Atari computer and an Akai 950 sampler, and a studio engineer called Paul Harding, also from my old band, who worked at Southern Studios, (home of Crass and Adrian Sherwood at the time amongst others). Paul helped us create the first E.P. and was involved with the label when it started. Our influences were a hybrid of all the stuff around at the time from the raw acid of Underground Resistance, through UK rave like Rising High Records, to the European acid trance which was just emerging (Hardfloor/Important Records/Hyper Hype Records, etc.) – the first couple of E.P.’s took a long while to complete and we wanted them to reflect all these influences. We’d also begun to meet other artists on the squat scene with similar vibes like DDR and the guys from Shrape (who were responsible for the 3rd E.P.) but they also had their own sound which differed to ours.

At the start we got some positive feedback but not much success with SUF and soon ran out of cash, but after the Truelove Collective took us on board we rallied and were able to persevere with trying to record the sound we really wanted the label to have. We nailed it over the next few releases, with SUF5 (DOM’s classic ‘Acid War’) and SUF9 (Cosmic Trigger ‘Ghost of Acid’) both doing particularly well, and perhaps displaying the blueprint sound most effectively of all the early records.

When I was finishing number SUF11 (I’d produced one side but needed another track) I met Henry Cullen who worked as an engineer for the nascent Bag Records. I’d been asked to make a record for them, on the condition I used Henry’s studio. The session went really well and he agreed to engineer one side of SUF11 (which ended up being the A-side ‘Nothing Can Save Us, London’). His studio had a digital recording facility called Soundscape so we could finally layer the 303s to our hearts content, write harmonic 303 lines (a technique pioneered by DDR), and achieve the rich sound only hinted at on the earlier releases. Henry of course was D.A.V.E. the Drummer and SUF began a new era from this point on. Shortly after we met Lawrie Immersion and Guy Geezer, who joined the growing team of acid heads, including us Liberators, DDR, and Gizelle.  The music and creativity blossomed alongside the weekly squat raves, which focused on this heavy new London sound as they got bigger and louder! My favourite early tune was probably SUF17 ‘Cosmic Trigger’, though the classic at the time was SUF14, A&E Dept’s ‘The Rabbit’s Name Was….” definitely nailed it with those two!

Going even further back, did you have any musical heroes when you were growing up? What kind of music was there around you when you were a kid?

Absolutely! I lived and breathed music from an early age, a massive fan of Slade and Sweet when I was only 7 or 8, then my tastes quickly matured into Queen and Pink Floyd, but of course these were all thrown aside when Punk came along in 1977. I was only 12 but the energy and anger connected with me immediately, and for me it changed everything forever. The mundane and shitty closed society that surrounded me as I went through my teenage years growing up on the edge of London in Hornchurch, Essex, was suddenly and irrevocably challenged. It completely and utterly blew my mind. I remember seeing Mark Perry (from Sniffing’ Glue fanzine and the band ATV who I later met, a definite hero of mine) on TV slagging off all the prog rock bands and in the same week discovering the Stranglers, followed by the Adverts, Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Slits, and all those other bands from the original punk era. I was hooked and I stayed hooked, following punk avidly as it progressed through the coming years into all it’s digressions (with massive amounts of help from John Peel)  including early electronica  like Cabaret Voltaire/ Normal, etc., and all the Rough Trade stuff (Kleenex/ Thee Raincoats and suchlike). I was in a band called Hagar the Womb at this time and I got involved in the anarcho punk scene (Crass/ Mob/ Poison Girls and similar bands) playing at punk squats and anarcho activist centres, and loved the DIY culture it inspired.

All this stuff from 77 to 84 is the glue which cemented everything that followed. The DIY approach to making music, and the attitude and anti-authoritarianism of punk came through in all the music  I made, and was the blueprint and inspiration for the SUF labels, the SUF collective, and all the music we went on to create between us all. Julian and Aaron were both squatters when I met them and were friends of Hackney punks, who themselves were descendants of this same scene, just a generation on, and likewise one of the first squat parties with techno that I went too was part organised by old punk mates (Dan, from the Apostles and later Look Mummy Clowns, and Danny Blank).  Lawrie, Henry and Guy were all in bands prior to their involvement in techno, and hail from this same scene, though a generation on . Way before I knew Henry and Guy we were at the same parties: while the Liberators were playing Techno on the Bedlam stage at the legendary Castlemorton Festival in 1992, they were playing on another stage in their then band, Back To the Planet. We were all there, fruit from the same seed.

Was it a political upbringing? SUF, and other UK techno labels like Prolekult and later Routemaster, were often overtly political, what drove this?

As I said, all of the punk stuff acted not as just as an energy kick, but as a political education. However, when the techno came along it was a massively hedonistic time, and you didn’t want to preach to people when you were all buzzing on a new vibe, feeling the rush and energy of the Ecstasy revolution. Punk rock was far from my mind during this period, and for a lot of the others probably of no consequence. But we did came from an alternative culture and the reason we didn’t want to go clubbing with the Mixmag crowd was because we were outsiders, all aware and ‘turned on’ if you like. By doing illegal raves you were challenging the status quo, but also making parties the way we felt they should be made, with a dirtier, edgier feel. They  were political by their very nature, and the ‘Fuck You’ attitude was always there. Lawrie’s Immersion rig was out every week, and he lived on a bus, parked up in a succession of squats.

Most of the parties and music sessions were done on the fly. It felt like we could do anything, and even though there were several run-ins with police and council officers, it did feel like London was ours for the taking. There were overtly political things happening alongside the scene, like Reclaim The Streets, and the M11 protests too. As for the labels, Lawrie’s label Routemaster definitely flew the flag for the squat scene, and Prolekult had Red Jerry behind it, who wasn’t really  part of our scene but was another who wore his politics on his sleeve and shared the same attitude and  musical taste. We were all pretty much on the same page. London/ UK techno was more than just music, it actually meant something, representing  a way of life and way of thinking. Unsurprisingly, it seemed to connect to the same kind of  people, the outsiders who had a similar view of the world to us.

I think that the decision of thousands of young and not so young people to go and dance in fields and warehouses with thousands of other people was a subconsciously political act, a decision to step away from straight society (as well as the pure fun of loud music and bright lights), but didn’t really want anything to do with mainstream party politics until the Tories started their assault after the Castlemorton Festival. As their response hardened into legislation that specifically and directly attacked music comprised of repetitive beats (as well as hunt sabs, protesters, and all the other inter-locking bits of alternative life) were you involved in the Freedom Party movement, and the anti-CJA demos, etc? Personally the anti-CJA stuff felt dispiriting and euphoric all at the some time – I remember being completely resigned to the passing of the law but still enthused by the passion of the resistance. How was it from your perspective?

I think being politicised via punk, especially anarcho-punk, where the Stop the City, anti war, anti vivisection marches and suchlike had already given us a taste of street protest meant that when the anti-CJA and Reclaim the Streets protests happened we just got involved as we’d always done. Fighting abhorrent legislation by showing your anger on the streets was an everyday thing, especially in the eighties where millions took to the streets against the Poll Tax and nuclear weapons. Whatever we have, they will always try and take it away from us, I think most of us knew it would inevitably happen. Most encouragingly of all the squat parties continued on unabated in London. Most of the rigs just thought , fuck it, we ain’t stopping, we’ll just have to become more under the radar.

After the blatant approach of Spiral Tribe’s highly publicised events, a new breed of sound systems had learned that it was easier to just do your thing without too much fanfare, which is why Bedlam parties rarely got busted and Spiral Tribe parties often did, because Spirals were pretty full on and wanted to make as much publicity for the free party cause as possible, but this of course had it’s negative consequences. It was a learning curve but eventually squat parties survived because of it. Jiba threw a party the week the Criminal Justice Bill came in and didn’t get stopped. It was a green light for the London scene, which flourished.

Lots of crews disappeared across the channel to Europe and a perceived easier life travelling and putting on parties over there away from the hassle in the UK. I was always grateful in a way to the ones, like you lot and DiY and others, that stayed put and fought on here. What made you stay in the UK, and did the CJA have a big impact on you post-1995? We’ve obviously seen that state aggression continue, with last years completely pointless legislation making squatting in a residential property a criminal offence: do you think dance music and alternative culture will carry on being attacked by governments?

We just carried on, but with a little bit more care. Outside London, free festivals and bigger gatherings kind of dried up, same as they did after The Battle of the Beanfield and Stonehenge Free Festival a decade earlier when the authorities first clamped down on the travellers. Spiral Tribe went to France and we attended the first Teknival there in Milau, and had originally planned to leave too with Conspiracy and Bedlam (who we’d linked up with at Lechlade and Castlemorton), but key members of Conspiracy had been charged by the police after Castlemorton and decided it wasn’t worth it after fighting to stay out of jail. We enjoyed the Teknival/ traveller spirit but with the music taking off in UK and the London scene really starting to ‘ave it we decided it was better for us to stay, and I’m glad we did.

As for Spirals, they achieved a massive amount in Europe bringing the Teknival idea to fruition on a larger scale than could ever be imagined, but with the advent of Immersion and Virus sound systems, and after them Underground Sound, Manik and a tonne of others, the London squat scene became huge. The Spirals might have taken the Teknival concept to Europe, but we on the other hand had managed to draw the wayward youth of  Europe’s underground to London with hordes of Italians, Spanish and French coming to the UK capital to enjoy the weekly huge Acid Techno warehouse squat parties, where thousands of revellers would reclaim the unused and empty buildings of the city to use for 48-hour mega-raves that were seriously off the hook.

There was still the odd rave or Teknival outside London, and big free party crews operating in places like Bristol, Wales, and the Midlands, but these parties often attracted the attention of the police who freely used the CJB legislation to confiscate equipment. In the capital it was the Noise Abatement laws that were used to the same effect, and caused numerous confiscations and problems, but in industrial areas it was rarely seen as more than a nuisance by the Met or the local force who often came to check things out but didn’t necessarily feel that wasting precious Saturday night man power on busting parties was worth the effort, especially when more serious breaches of the peace were taking place outside pubs and nightclubs. Nowadays crews like E1S, Stinky Pink, KSS, Malfaiteurs, and many others still fly the flag, with regular parties. The squatting laws have changed again however and the new legislation will affect the use of commercial buildings, so it will be interesting to see what happens now.

Of course, any alternative culture will be regarded with suspicion by the powers that be, so is likely to be attacked by any government that feels that it poses a threat to the status-quo. However, alternative culture often becomes accepted by mainstream culture in the long run, and often is absorbed by it, as we’ve seen with both punk rock and dance culture. Even underground heroes like Mutoid Waste, who have lived outside mainstream society for generations, were involved in the Olympic opening ceremony last year, and have seen their art celebrated in the media in recent times. Good or bad? Well, good for the most part, they’ve changed perceptions and moved people’s ideas and preconceptions of art and reality on, and as long as there is always someone else out there kicking against the pricks (and there always will be for sure!) it’s good to see acceptance of some radical ideas as people slowly begin to wise up.

Having survived the ‘death of dance music’ (copyright: the music press every three years or so, on a loop for the last twenty years) several times over, and the descent of techno into glitchy fiddly minimal tedium, it must have been nice over the last few years to see dance music, and acid techno in particular, make a big comeback (especially in light of your ‘Bored’ tune). Does it seem to you like the acid sound has burst out again? Has the slow death of the mainstream music industry affected you?

Yes, acid techno definitely seems to be on the rise again . A glut of wicked new producers like A.P., Tassid and Tik Tok, and labels like Corrosive and Brain Gravy has really helped develop a new digital sound, and a new generation is beginning to get into it via exposure to it at events like Boomtown Fair last year, where they finally had techno represented in the bigger areas like Arcadia amongst the dubstep, rave, and drum ‘n’ bass. Free party crews in places like Lincolnshire and Norfolk have adopted the sound, and in Europe it has began to impact on the free-party scene where it has always played second-fiddle to Hard-Tek and the traditional European Teknival sound. In countries like Australia (Techno Mulisha), Colombia (Acid Resistance) and Spain (Acid Corps) newer crews are beginning to build a scene alongside older more established outfits, and in traditional strongholds like Japan (Mass), Venezuela, Brazil, and Poland there are still crews continuing with the sound and making parties happen.It’s not the biggest musical genre but due to the fanaticism of its following and the very underground, uncompromising nature of it, I don’t think it’s ever going to disappear.

As for the mainstream music biz meltdown, yes it has impacted on us a bit, but now the internet has established itself, and the vinyl has proved it can survive alongside mp3 and digital formats it’s beginning to settle. There’s very little money for artists but since we set up, dedicated to harder acid and techno, it’s given the artists a platform to release stuff, and DJs and acid heads looking for acid techno and related stuff can now go directly there to find this specific musical genre and can support the scene’s musicians directly. We’re still producing vinyl of course, but it’s difficult and expensive so it’s more limited than before but we ain’t gonna stop unless we’re forced to!

SUF100 must have been quite a milestone for an underground label – especially when, once you count in all the remix EP’s and releases from other SUF-related labels, the actual releases must number in the thousands. How did it feel once you realised it was on the horizon? How did the celebratory year go, and more importantly what is next for you and SUF?

Well, most of all it’s just great to still be around after all this time. I think the thing we’re most proud of is the fact that we’ve never compromised our sound or our ethical stance, even when it’s been obvious that we’re so out of sync with the rest of the techno world which seems to be dominated by a constant urge to follow what’s in fashion. Of course there are exceptions to this and I’m happy to think that we are hopefully one of those, and have perhaps garnered some respect for that at least. is still selling vinyl, and as mentioned earlier, is a dedicated acid techno site for mp3 downloads, and the Stay Up Forever Facebook page is where you can get most of the news on the parties we’re doing and general news.

We’ve got a limited edition box set of the whole SUF 100 release coming soon, and lots of parties including another big L.U.U. event and something in collaboration with Spiral Tribe next year, so plenty going on alongside all the DJ stuff and occasional appearances at free parties too. We are still planning an exhibition documenting SUF and The Global Acid Techno party scene. Not sure when, but hopefully soon!


In these irony-soaked, ‘seen-it-all-before’ times it is rare to see a set of people who are politically sincere and culturally consistent when it comes to making music. Stay Up Forever inhabit a parallel dimension, a million light-years away from plastic EDM and moody minimalism. Holding your nerve and living up to your political ethics isn’t easy in our debased culture, so fair play to them for making music for the best of reasons – to move the minds and bodies of freaks across the globe. We can only hope that there are another 20 years of full-on, face-ripping, foot-stomping, warehouse-shaking, acid techno coming our way, as more and more people re-discover the joys of fat 303s, fat rigs, fast drugs… and a fuck you attitude!

Thanks to Chris for answering our questions, and thanks to all the SUF crew for the tunes and parties over the years. As far from the mainstream as you can get, this is UK dance music at its best – heartfelt, hectic, and independent.


Stay Up Forever’s website can be found here. They’re also on Facebook.

Interview by Ben Sansum, author of ‘Spannered’, a book about UK free-parties. You can find more of his Louder Than War writing here, the Spannered Books website here, orfollow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Freeparty Photobooks

NO SYSTEM Vinca Petersen (Steidl)

Vinca travelled around with various teknotypes in the mid-1990s. A lot of these snaps feel like holiday fotos and she's really good at capturing the freedom of being in a convoy of trucks drifting around Europe. Good times.

There's a fotodisplay from the book and more stuff on her website. You can buy it from her for a tenner or for £250 on amazon!!!

3672 - La Free Story

A French book, quite glossy made by some people associated with Paris sisdem Trouble Fete, a journalist and a professional photographer. Lots of flyers. I can't vouch for the texts, I haven't got round to reading them but the fotos are excellent quality and weird stylistically. There's no speakers, no people dancing, just lots of people asleep and/or wearing baggy trousers. But, as a document of a scene which had lots of people asleep or muntering horizontally, it does convey the feeling of being at a rave in the morning with a lot of done in people.

It was available here for free but the author got it taken down.

No System, que l'on doit à Vinca Petersen, fut le premier recueil iconographique sur une tribu de "traveller" (Total Resistance). Wilfrid Estève, photographe ayant sévit au côté de T. Colombié (Technomades - la piste électronique, Stock) a eu la bonne idée de conserver sur pellicules une partie des soirées et festivals auxquels il a assisté en France. L'esprit libre et contestataire de ce mouvement musical nous est restitué par le texte emprunt d'ethnologie de Sarah de Haro. Cet ouvrage participe d'une meilleure compréhension d'un phénomène dont les médias n'ont traité que les dérives (consommation de produits psychotropes, nuisances diverses etc.). Il est à noter qu'il se fait l'écho du travail de réduction des risques mené, entre autres, par Médecins du Monde ; Techno + etc.

SONiQUE VILLAGE by C. Van Bezouw (Self-published)

Christel made this nook in edition of 500, i think. The feel with this one is a group of friends growing up, going to parties then putting them on themselves (which is what it is, it's ZMK family). There's a lot of atmospheric fotos at parties and doodles suggesting the altered states and weird thoughts that the quicksilvermix of sound and drug can pull out of nowhere. I like it. [The title is French but it's Dutch, but there's no text]

Overground by Tomski and bze (editions alternatives)

Met the two people who made this when they stopped at our squat in Robodam. It's a strange mix of counterculture wiht lots of fotos of protests, peircings, parties, porn and so on. The texts in French are pretty impenetrable, lots of slang i guess.

Paname san dessus dessous! by Frotte Canard (Colours Zoo)

A book documenting the Saoulaterre people who do parties in the catacombs under Paris.

Brand new book devoted to the underground Paris and its legendary life of the Catacombes. Made by the FC, a crew of graffiti artists and musicians, "Paname Sans Dessus, Dessous", with none censorship, is a hallucinating dive into this world always and still alive, according to their motto "DONT STOP ACTIONZZZZ ".

OUT OF ORDER by M.Macindoe (Tangent)

Molly's book documenting seven years of the London squat party scene. I went to a lot of these parties but remember them rather differently. These fotos present quite a dark, macho image of squatparties. That was certainly part of it but we had a lot of fun too. Guardian

I like the way all these books focus on different facets of parties, and none are made as I would make them. Sonique Village is like an art book, handbound and is full of memories. Out of Order is pretty bleak, but reminds me of the power of a full-on London multi-rigger. No System tempts me to go travelling. Paname reminds me of the time I nearly went to a catacomb rave at Xmas then we lunched it and everyone got arrested and harrassed by French cops. 3672 shows the power of the French scene as it was, and I guess Overground does too.

Venetian Snares

I went to see Venetian Snares on Monday. It was the fourth time I've seen him I think and like last time, a year or so ago, I was left a bit confused. It's pretty cool to hear Snares mix his own stuff together, but it just ends up feeling like he's throwing the kitchen sink at you. The bits of stuff I recognised were sometimes mixed well, sometimes quite badly. The whole thing went on a bit too long and ended rather indulgently with Snares packing up his bag whilst making some feedback with his fancy CD dex. I tried to get a friend who likes punk to come, I thought she might get inspired by the the breakcore, but actually I'm glad she lunched it - if you weren't already a fan, an hour and a half of a big mixed mess probably wouldn't convert you. I'm glad I went but it could have been loads better.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Time flies

Damn I've written a long piece about the various freeparty fotobooks I've acquired over the years and now I've sat on it so long, I've fucking lost it. Grrrr. Anyhoo, will try to dig it out...

Thursday 29 March 2012

Curley RiP

Born in Leidschendam Holland 16 April 1973 Curley Schoop spent his childhood years in Curacao (Netherlands Antilles). After moving back to Holland with the family in his teenage years his love for music came into true fruition. At the age of sixteen he released his first record on the DJAX label (D.I.C.E. - rubba dice stylin).

In 1994 he was to travel to Berlin with R.A.F. who were his friends Joep, Katja, and Chiel as well as with his friends Sazz and Ratski where they played on a party of Acid Orange.

By now the entire Spiral Circus had descended on invitation to stay at the 'Blauwe Aanslag' squat in Den Haag, Holland. This is where the infamous Acid Planet parties from Jan, Unit Moebius, Siuli and Guy where happening and where Sebastian (69db) and Simon (Crystal Distortion) from Spiral Tribe together with Unit Moebius were beginning to inspire a whole generation. These happenings were to change everything for Curley as they did for so many from this period.

After returning to Holland the 'Hardcore Peace Generation' was formed. Holland was by now in full party flow, parties and sound systems were springing up all over the place. Curley moved to Den Haag from the south to be in the midst of it all. Time was filled squatting and organizing parties and tekno café’s big and small all over the place. It was in this period Curley was making music together with Jan, Sebastian and Simon. Together a sound was made: that sound would become legendary: 'the Spiral Sound'.

It was somewhere around this time Curley met Barbara who he was to be with for the rest of his life. Holland had much to offer for a young inspiring musician and DJ with its full flow party mayhem from the likes of his friends from Cyb-X and Mononom Soundsytems for whom he would play his legendary mental mix of acid, hardcore and tekno many times.

In 1995 he made the move to London. Barbara was English and Curley was always up for new adventures. Although a far cry from what he knew from the free party scene in Europe Curley would flourish in the diversity of the music in London. New influences were creeping into his Dj sets, breakbeats, drum and bass, the London style. I don't think there are too many recordings from his DJ sets from these times, in fact I don't think you could capture it on a tape, you just had to be there, those that were there know exactly what I am talking about, some things you just can’t capture in a recording.
Curley had the utter ability to ignite a dead party, to whip up a dance floor into free flow mayhem. He never looked the part, a black guy in a predominately white hardcore scene in a funny hat and flared trousers, but he was still somehow the coolest geezer in the building, everybody wanted to talk to him, everybody wanted him on the decks, to hang out with him. Probably some of his finest moments DJ'ing was in those warehouses in London, there he would create his voodoo magic on the wheels of steel.

A lot of people who had not been out to Europe could not understand what he was playing but they loved it. It was a combination of the Spiral sound, the Dutch sound and the London sound all mixed in and mashed up, it was truly unique.
It was in London he would meet Ben and Brett from the Fear Teachers: he would play a lot at their parties together with the Mainline Soundsystem. The Fear Teachers and the surrounding people would be a big influence on Curley. They had been to Europe, they did know what was going on but they had their own sound, their influences were also from electro and more distorted and messed up beats. Curley thrived of these new ways and sounds; he would revel in the London ways of music. Drum and bass were to seriously influence his DJ sets where he would play out together with his friend Beven (Dj Terroreyes) with their three deck mash ups. At this time he releases on Ben and Brett’s Audio Illusion label and made his other classic releases on the Club Craft, Utmostfear and Crowd Control labels.

In 1997, Curley now just twenty four years of age was a proud father happily in love and with his music seriously taking off. By now his DJ gigs were constant, playing out in London and back home in Holland as well as Italy, Germany and France; his records were also now starting to come out in a steady stream. After always releasing on other peoples labels and as he was always wanting to push forwards he decided together with Barbara to start their own label Kibra Hacha. The first release on this label was to be his final one in his lifetime.

After spending Christmas together in London with his new family, Curley & Barbara set off to drive to a big party in Rome Italy for the New Year of 1998. This was to be Curley's final set. In the early hours of the third of January whilst still out in Rome Italy Curley died suddenly in bed of a heart condition he never knew he had. It shocked us all and sent tremors throughout the party scene in Europe. Many tributes were made and several huge memorial parties were made in his honor, in Holland, England and Italy. One of the finest had been taken away in the prime of his life with everything to live for.

Some stars light up the night sky brighter than others, they give off more energy, sometimes those stars will burn out quicker because of this, but those are the stars you remember. In the end it's not how many years you have lived that are important but what you did in those years and Curley lived every minute of his life to the full. I think the following written by his friend Brett after Curley's death says it all:

"Within our creative dance culture there are few people with the active energy and dedicated commitment necessary to keep the scene fresh, vibrant and at the cutting edge. Curley possessed all these powers and spread them like a virus, infecting all who crossed his path with a positive feeling and uniting us all in confidence for the future" (Brett Youngs R.I.P)

[Huge Thanks to Skurge for writing this very difficult lovely words]

Thursday 15 March 2012

"Truth" about young people and drugs revealed in Guardian survey

A fifth of young drug users admit to taking "mystery white powders" without any idea what they contain, according to an international Guardian survey that reveals the extent of reckless behaviour among a new generation of high-risk drug takers.

The poll of 15,500 people by the Guardian and Mixmag magazine also found that more respondents in the UK and US admitted taking cannabis than either tobacco or energy drinks. Those who defined themselves as clubbers were more likely to take ecstasy than smoke cigarettes.

The headline findings from what is one of the largest ever surveys of drug use raised alarm among health experts, who pointed out that even those who think they knew what they were taking could be consuming another drug entirely.

John Ramsey, toxicologist at St George's medical school in London, said: "It is amazing that so many people take mystery white powders. The truth is nobody knows what the risks are and it is patently dangerous to take untested drugs."

The survey found 15% of respondents say they have taken a unknown white powder in the past 12 months, a third admitting it was supplied by someone they didn't trust.

But younger drug users were much more likely to take risks with unknown substances, with a fifth of all respondents aged between 18 and 25 saying they had taken mystery powders. Respondents who spoke to the Guardian were confident that they could balance drug taking with their careers and relationships, and regarded the side effects of drug use as often no worse than a hangover.

One respondent, James, a financial broker, told the Guardian: "My daily life is sensible, regimented and very stressful, so at the weekend I want the opposite. When I go out, the last thing I want is to think about work and responsibilities. I just want to lose myself for a few hours."

The survey also reveals:

• There are signs of an emerging "grey market" in legally prescribed painkillers and antidepressants, often acquired from friends, dealers or through the internet.

• Mephedrone, which gained media notoriety and was banned by the British government in 2010, is falling out of favour, with reports of more harmful side effects compared with other substances.

• Survey respondents caught in possession of small amounts of illegal drugs are unlikely to be punished heavily by the law, and stand a high chance of being let off.

• Alcohol is used regularly by almost all drug users, and, apart from tobacco, is the substance respondents would most like to take less of. Two-thirds of male respondents and 60% of women reported drinking at hazardous or harmful levels – though a fifth of regarded their drinking as average or below average levels.

Some 7,700 UK drug users and 4,000 from the US and Canada took part in the detailed survey, carried out online in November. Respondents were asked a range of questions including what drugs they took, how often, and what the health and legal consequences were. It was conducted by the independent drug use data exchange Global Drug Survey, in association with the Guardian and Mixmag, the clubbing magazine and website.

One of the strongest underlying messages is that this group of drug users report as happy, healthy and educated, and feel at ease with their recreational consumption of a range of illicit substances from cannabis to ecstasy to cocaine. They are not in rehab, prison or in trouble with the law and do not take heroin or crack.

The mean age of UK respondents was 28. Nine out of 10 were white, three-quarters were in work and earning between £10,000 and £40,000. Some 55% were educated to degree level or above.

Dr Adam Winstock, a consultant addictions psychiatrist and director of Global Drug Survey, said: "This is the largest assessment of current drug use ever conducted. What is overwhelmingly tells us is that people are not defined by their drug use, but that the harms that drugs can have are defined by the way people choose to use them.

"The challenge for government and policy makers will be how to regulate and craft a public health response which remains credible and respects individual choice."

The drugs most likely to be used by respondents were overwhelmingly alcohol and tobacco, with 92% of respondents saying they had drunk alcohol in the last month, 53% had taken cannabis, 34%, MDMA and 22% cocaine.

One in 10 respondents said they had been stopped and searched for drugs in the past 12 months. Of those found with cannabis, just under half were let off. Over a third of those caught with MDMA were let off.

Niamh Eastwood, chief executive of the drugs charity Release, said the findings suggested the police might be reluctant to criminalise this demographic group for carrying drugs.

"If you sent the same survey to different groups – young black males in inner city areas, say – it would tell a different story. The survey probably does represent the experience of middle class people who use drugs."

David Nutt, the former government drugs adviser sacked for suggesting LSD and ecstasy were less dangerous than alcohol, said he was not surprised by the survey findings about the extent of drinking and the concerns people had about it. "That's what I expected. People understand. The message is out there and people know alcohol is the biggest problem. It confirms what the evidence has been saying."

Saturday 10 March 2012

Critical Beats #4

Might sludge along to this-

Critical Beats #4: Sound Systems

From 19/04/12 to 19/04/12
Location: London Stratford Circus, United Kingdom
Special Events

The series of symposiums on electronic dance music and club culture, co-hosted by The Wire and the University of East London, continues with a panel discussion on the culture of sound systems. With Julian Henriques (author of Sonic Bodies: Reggae Soundsystems, Performance Techniques And Ways Of Knowing), Colleen Murphy (Lucky Cloud Sound System) and others tbc. London Stratford Circus, 19 April, 7:30pm, £4/£2.

Whose hardcore continuum?

Over the last ten years, the music journalist Simon Reynolds has developed the concept of the hardcore continuum ('nuum' for short) to describe a scene which began with rave and progressed through various styles including drum n bass, jungle and 'ardkore through to dubstep and grime, then to 2step to funky in the present day. He draws out connections between genres in terms of labels, dubplates producers, pirate radio stations and places. But he's missing out as much as he leaves in.

I'm more concerned with underground music than following fads, and despite dabbling in therory, Reynolds seems to ignore the fact that capitalism consistently recuperates any challenges to its hegemony. Thus labels and people sell out, pirate radio stations become mainstream to develop an audience, free parties become recommodified as commercial festivals like Lowlands or Glade or Bangface. Just because pirate stations like Rinse used to play drum n bass and now play garage, or certain artists have developed in the same direction, doesn't mean that garage is in any way hardcore.

Whilst I like some of the ideas behind the nuum I'm not sure how relevant it is to me, since I'm more interested in dark fucked up sounds and sonic experimentation (the real progression of hardcore, surely). The last time the nuum got me going was dubstep and I don't think there's anything hardcore about funky.

To be fair, Reynolds did say in 2009:

It's even not the only dance continuum I'm interested in as a listener or as a writer, for instance I've written a lot about another music called hardcore, the gabba tradition, European four to the floor kick drum pounding terror techno, I'm a big fan and defender of that

... but then he hasn't mentioned it much lately. At a 'Critical Beats' talk in 2012, he even seemed rather dismissive of gabba, possibly because he has lost touch with its offshoots through living in New York and listening to shit like Burial.

Yet as we all know, one offshoot of rave, the faster hectic strand hardened into gabba which then itself influenced many forms, such as happy hardcore, french tekno, speedcore and breakcore. Various subgenres have splintered off and sometimes form into valid scenes themselves eg flashcore.

Where does that leave us now? Well, we are in the future. You tell me. Having gone through explosion then death, whatever breakcore now means nowadays still throws up a shitload of good stuff, since experimentation and sonic deviance is explicitly welcomed by its broad parameters. Wrong Music pioneered a return to weirdness and now bassline (Kanji Kinetic, Figure, Warlock) is getting people raving on the dancefloor again.

Personally, what I'm hoping for would be just as dubstep bass infected dnb basslines, we'll end up with a fast return to the darkside, with massive basslines anchored on 220 bpm beats.

At the Critical Beats talk the heroes seemed to be Zomby and Burial. I'd prefer to sit down and talk about Venetian Snares, Enduser, Shitmat, La Peste, No Name and Mouse. Vsnares is on mu-ziq records, Enduser is on the consistently interesting AdNoiseam (among other labels) but these names didn't get mentioned once.

That's a bit weird, since these people really are maintaining some sort of hardcore continuum (although that name's taken already). For example, VSnares frequently drops in references to allsorts of stuff in his tunes (commercial drum n bass in 'Fuck Toronto Jungle' and 'A Lot of Drugs',' punk in 'Abomination Street', rave in 'Husikam Rave Dojo' and 'Calvin Kleining', gabba all through the Winnipeg album and so on).

Reynolds is correct to identify how a scene develops in reflexively self-referential style, which can be almost impenetrable to outsiders who don't know the heritage of the scene. But he is wrong to track continua as they mainstream and become commercialised. It's personal choice I suppose, but surely it's much more interesting to stay underground.

Flint Michigan wrote in the initial manifesto for Datacide magazine that it was:

A communication tool of the trans-european Undo*round, it is intended to give the a deserved coverage to those who do things, not for the kudos, prestige and cash it might bring in but for the buzz of inter-activity and mutual respect

There is an underground quietly bubbling away, partying at the weekend, communicating through zines like this one, creating music of all sorts with a seriously anti-capitalist and anti-commercial attitude. That's what gives me hope and what I see as the real hardcore continuum.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Critical Beats #3

Critical Beats #3: Simon Reynolds's Reader

From 23/02/12 to 23/02/12
Location: London Stratford Circus, United Kingdom
Sponsored by The Wire
Wire Events Extras
Links: |

Simon Reynolds has put together a trio of links for preparatory reading ahead of the 23 February Critical Beats panel at Stratford Circus.
Critical Beats in London/Rave as Militant Modernism
Ahead of the panel discussion next week, Reynolds has published an extract on the hardcore continuum as a form of street modernism, from Partly Political #4, his series of reflections on the debate over the hardcore continuum.

The History of Our World: The Hardcore Continuum Debate (Dancecult, Vol 1, No 2)
For a longer overview on the hardcore continuum, Reynolds points to his article from Dancecult, which looks at the hardcore continuum, its relationship to history and how it’s changed in the internet era.

Running On Empty (The New Statesman, 30 April 2009)
The following is a piece by Mark Fisher (who is no longer able to attend the panel due to illness) on what he terms an energy crisis in music. Fisher asks: "Were rave and its offshoots Jungle and Garage just that – a sudden flash of energy that has since dissipated? More worryingly, is the death of rave only one symptom of an overall energy crisis in culture? Are cultural resources running out in the same way as natural resources are?"

Critical Beats #3: Aesthetics, Innovation and Tradition, features Simon Reynolds, Joe Muggs, Lisa Blanning, plus Steve Goodman (moderator), discussing the aesthetics of current dance scenes. London Stratford Circus, 23 February, 7:30pm, £5/£3.